(Deborah met our two scholars, Shi Hongli and Wang Shuizhen when she visited Lanzhou with Dave Bromwich.)
In September 2011, I was delighted to have the opportunity of meeting our two He Ming Qing nursing scholars, Shi Hongli and Wang Shuizhen, and to hear first-hand of their experiences and expectations since moving to Lanzhou to attend University. I spent an evening with them at a restaurant in Lanzhou, along with NZCFS Vice President Dave Bromwich.
Both girls are enjoying living in Lanzhou which is the biggest city either of them had visited, and which required some adjustments to begin with – traffic, noise and difficulty in getting around. However once they adjusted they enjoy the amenities a large city had to offer – the excitement and variety of the shops, the movies, the parks and the beautiful river. Of course, as students, much of the shopping was ‘window shopping’ and mall-surfing!
They both find their nursing studies challenging, they are working long days and seem to have a lot of homework, but they are also involving themselves in other activities to balance their academic workload.
Wang Shuizhen is studying at the North Western Minorities University, she is a confident and outgoing young woman who has already gained a very good command of English, and enjoyed having the opportunity to practice it with us. She found Lanzhou both daunting and exciting when she first arrived, having been raised in Feng Xian, a rural area in the Baoji district of Shaanxi. Her parents are smallholder farmers and run a small shop in the township, which distributes agricultural necessities. Her hometown is in a very beautiful area, mountainous and lush and green, home to many varieties of pip and stone fruits. She is well aware of the chance she has been given in being awarded the Scholarship and is embracing the opportunities that have opened up for her. In her free time she goes bike riding to explore the city with her new friends, and recently joined a basketball team.
Shi Hongli is in her third year at Lanzhou University, and is now doing some practical work in the hospital to complement her theoretical work. She initially seems shy and serious, but on talking with her you realize she is quietly confident, and will I am sure make a great contribution to society in her chosen area. She likes to use her free time constructively and has been helping at a local centre for elderly people. However her workload is now higher this year so she may not be able to continue this. She comes from Mingle county of Zhangye district, Gansu, an attractive city north-west of Lanzhou, and close to Shandan, home of the Shandan Baillie School founded by Rewi Alley. Zhangye is a rural agricultural area, near the southern end of the Gobi desert, flat and quite arid with cold winters and hot summers.
The young women were pleased to meet with members of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, they commented that it made real their connection to New Zealand and gave them a ‘face’ to their Scholarship providers. They are both extremely grateful for the opportunity they have been given to further their education, and through nursing to make a very worthwhile contribution to society.
I came away from the evening with them thinking this was one of those unique win-win situations; by having a Scholarship the students were motivated to work harder and have the opportunity to achieve something that would otherwise have been impossible. For the NZCFS we have a very practical, direct and worthwhile way in which to help not only young rural women, but also the society in which they will become part – and at the same time perpetuating the legacy and memory of our courageous New Zealand nurse, Kathleen Hall.